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Publication numberUS6276572 B1
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 09/635,546
Publication dateAug 21, 2001
Filing dateAug 10, 2000
Priority dateAug 10, 2000
Fee statusLapsed
Publication number09635546, 635546, US 6276572 B1, US 6276572B1, US-B1-6276572, US6276572 B1, US6276572B1
InventorsChristopher T. Evans
Original AssigneeSussex Technology Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Measuring device with conical cap
US 6276572 B1
Abstract
A device for assisting in the dispensing of a product (liquid or solid) comprising a shaft having a substantially hollow passage therein, a first cone-shaped cap disposed on a first end of the shaft, a second cap disposed on a second end of the shaft, said second cap having an opening therein which is substantially aligned with the hollow passage, and, a spider guide disposed between the second cap and the shaft, wherein the shaft has at least one hole therein disposed at a position closer to the first end of the shaft than the second end of the shaft. The device is preferably inserted into a container which holds product to be dispensed. The device provide a venting and dispensing controlling system whereby defined quantities of product can be dispensed from the container quickly and efficiently. The first cone-shaped cap allows the device to be inserted into containers with smaller necks, while still maintaining a large dose amount.
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Claims(21)
What is claimed is:
1. A device for assisting in the dispensing of product comprising:
a shaft having a substantially hollow passage therein;
a first cone-shaped cap disposed on a first end of the shaft;
a second cap disposed on a second end of the shaft, said second cap having an opening therein which is substantially aligned with the hollow passage; and,
a spider guide disposed between the second cap and the shaft,
wherein the shaft has at least one hole therein disposed at a position closer to the first end of the shaft than the second end of the shaft.
2. The device of claim 1, wherein the second cap is made of a flexible material.
3. The device of claim 1, wherein the opening in the second cap allows air to flow into the hollow passage of the shaft and out of the at least one hole formed in the shaft.
4. The device of claim 1, wherein the second cap comprises a disc-shaped member which has a diameter at least twice that of a diameter of the shaft.
5. The device of claim 1, wherein the spider guide comprises an X-shaped member which extends from the shaft.
6. The device of claim 1, wherein the at least one hole comprises at least two holes disposed on opposing sides of the shaft.
7. The device of claim 1, wherein the shaft, the first cap, the second cap and the spider guide are formed as a unitary piece by an extrusion process.
8. The device of claim 1, wherein the shaft, the first cap, the second cap and the spider guide are formed as a unitary piece by an injection molding process.
9. The device of claim 1, wherein the at least one hole extends through a wall of the shaft, from the hollow passage to an outer surface of the shaft.
10. The device of claim 1, wherein the at least one hole is substantially circular.
11. The device of claim 1, wherein the first cap is fixedly attached to the first end of the shaft.
12. The device of claim 1, wherein the diameter of the at least one hole is approximately one-third of the diameter of the opening.
13. The device of claim 1, wherein a diameter of the first cap is greater than a diameter of the second cap.
14. The device of claim 1, wherein the first cap is made of a flexible material.
15. The device of claim 1, wherein the first cap increases a dose amount of a product dispensed from the device.
16. The device of claim 1, wherein the product comprises a liquid product.
17. An apparatus for dispensing a product comprising:
a container; and,
a device for assisting in the dispensing of a product from the container comprising a shaft having a substantially hollow passage therein, a first cone-shaped cap disposed on a first end of the shaft, a second cap disposed on a second end of the shaft, said second cap having an opening therein which is substantially aligned with the hollow passage, and, a spider guide disposed between the second cap and the shaft, wherein the shaft has at least one hole therein disposed at a position closer to the first end of the shaft than the second end of the shaft.
18. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein at least one portion of the spider guide rests on a throat of the container when the device is disposed within the container.
19. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein a diameter of the first cap is made greater than a diameter of a neck of the container.
20. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the first cap is made of a flexible material.
21. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the product comprises a liquid product.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to devices for dispensing products (liquids and granular solids), and in particular, devices for dispensing predetermined quantities of products from a container.

DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART

Products such as liquid detergents, soaps, bleaches, and fabric softeners are currently being sold in containers which require the user to determine the amount of liquid needed for a specific end use of the product. Some of these containers have caps which may also serve as measuring cups to assist the user in pouring out a desired quantity of the product. Hopefully, the user keeps the measuring cup close at hand after the product has been opened, such as when detergents are used in laundry rooms.

Instructions on the containers provide the user with helpful information in determining the correct, or optimum amount of liquid bleach, for example, to use for the intended size of the laundry load, types of clothes being cleaned, and particular fabrics. Other liquids, such as mouthwash and medicinal liquids, are also preferably dispensed with precision and accuracy.

It has been learned, however, in a survey of users of such liquids, that most people merely pour out an estimated amount of the liquid based primarily on their own judgment and experience, or lack thereof. Very few users bother to take the time to measure the precise quantity, either with or without the measuring cap, because doing so requires extra time and two hands. As a result, the quantity of product varies greatly from individual to individual, even though a precise dose is required. This happens in spite of the known fact that using too much or too little of the product will affect the success of the job, whether it is cleaning, freshening breath, dispensing cough syrup, or whatever. Obviously, too much product is wasteful and expensive, and in the case of medicines, may be dangerous.

It is generally recognized by bottle and cap manufacturers that a container dispensing system which is capable of providing an accurate measure quantity of product is highly desirable.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,044,527 to Hickerson discloses a liquid dispensing system for dispensing a predetermined quantity of liquid. The system includes a container 10 with a restricted throat 29. The container 10 has disposed therein a valve spool 17 for controlling the quantity of liquid which flows from the container. The valve spool 17 includes an elongated stem 19, a valve means 25, a piston 21, and a spider guide 23. The piston 21 includes a vent 27 which allows air to flow back into the container 10 to assist in the dispensing process. The valve spool 17 fits into the restricted throat 29 of the container 10, as shown in FIG. 2 of the patent. As shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 of the patent, when the container 10 is inverted, liquid inside the container fills a top chamber 13 of the container until valve means 25 (of the valve spool 17) seals the top chamber from the remainder of the container (FIG. 7). Thus, liquid present in the container can be dispensed in predetermined amounts.

A problem associated with the above dispensing system is that it often times does not dispense liquid evenly due to inefficiencies of the venting system (e.g., vent 27 on the valve spool 17). For example, the liquid will sometimes be dispensed in “clumps” or uneven amounts due to the irregular airflow through the vent 27 and into the container 10. Additionally, the vent 27 often causes inaccuracies between pours based on the orientation and speed of the pour, and also allows some fluid to pass out through the vent (thereby decreasing the accuracy of the amount of liquid poured).

Thus, there is currently a need for an improved venting system for product (liquid or granular solid) dispensing systems which dispenses predetermined quantities of the product in precise amounts.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a device for assisting in the dispensing of a product comprising: a shaft having a substantially hollow passage therein, a first cone-shaped cap disposed on a first end of the shaft, a second cap disposed on a second end of the shaft, said second cap having an opening therein which is substantially aligned with the hollow passage and, a spider guide disposed between the second cap and the shaft, wherein the shaft has at least one hole therein disposed at a position closer to the first end of the shaft than the second end of the shaft.

The above and other advantages and features of the present invention will be better understood from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the invention which is provided in connection with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is partial cross-section view of a product dispensing system according to a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of a valve device according to a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged view of a container throat shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a product dispensing system 10 according to a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The system 10 includes a container 20 with a cap 15, and a valve device 25 disposed inside the container. The container 20 includes a neck 21 with an inner surface 24 and an outer threaded surface 22.

As shown more particularly in FIGS. 1-3, the valve device 25 includes several portions. The bulk of the valve device 25 is a shaft 30 which includes a hollow passage 31 on the interior thereof. A first valve cap 40 is coupled to a first end of the shaft 30, and a second valve cap 50 is coupled to a second end of the shaft.

The first valve cap 40 is preferably cone-shaped and made of a flexible material (e.g., flexible plastic) so that the valve device may be easily inserted into the container 20, as explained below. In order to provide flexibility, the first valve cap 40 is preferably made of a very thin plastic member (e.g., 0.025 inches thick or less). The first valve cap 40 also preferably has a diameter at least twice the diameter of the shaft 30. This feature allows the valve device 25 to be utilized with containers (e.g. container 20) of different neck (e.g., neck 21) sizes while still allowing significant product flow. Additionally, the diameter of the first valve cap 40 is preferably made wider than the diameter of the container throat 23, so that once the valve device 25 has been inserted in the container 20, it cannot be removed without applying significant force to the valve device in an upwards direction (i.e., away from the container 20).

The conical shape of the first valve cap 40 is particularly important in that it allows the valve device 25 to be inserted into containers (e.g., container 20) with smaller neck sizes while still permitting large dosage sizes. In particular, the diameter of the first valve cap 40 is made larger than the diameter of the container throat 23 (and consequently larger than the diameter of the second valve cap 50). Additionally, the first valve cap 40 is preferably made of a thin flexible material. Accordingly, when the valve device 25 is inserted into a container (e.g., container 20), the first valve cap 40 will bend inwardly to the size of the container neck 21, and will subsequently expand back to its original shape once it passes the container throat 23. This allows the valve device 25 to be inserted in containers with smaller necks, while still maintaining a large dosage amount (because, as explained below, the diameter of the first valve cap 40 in part determines a “dose amount”).

The second valve cap 50 preferably includes a central hole 51 which is substantially aligned with the hollow passage 31 in the shaft 30. The diameter of the second valve cap 50 is preferably less than the diameter of the container neck 21, so that the valve device 25 may move within the container neck. The valve device 25 also includes a spider guide 45 which is preferably approximately the same diameter as the container throat 23, so that an outer surface 46 of the spider guide rests on the container throat (see FIG. 3) when the container 20 is in its fully upright position (as shown in FIG. 1).

The spider guide 45 is preferably dimensioned so as to center the valve device 25 within the container neck 21. The spider guide 45 preferably comprises an X-shaped member which extends from shaft 30, however, the spider guide may take any suitable shape known to those skilled in the art.

The valve device 25 is preferably inserted in the container 20 by placing the valve device in the container neck 21 and applying a downward force on the valve device so that the first valve cap 40 is forced through the throat 23 of the container. Then, the valve device 25 falls down in the container neck 21 until the spider guide 45 rests on the throat 23 of the container 20.

In operation, the product dispensing system 10 provides for the dispensing of controlled amounts of product (liquid or solid). The dispensing process is begun by removing the cap 15 from the container 20 and inverting the container. As the container is inverted, the valve device 25 begins to move forward in the container neck 21, and product in the container 20 begins to flow into the container neck towards a container dispensing opening (i.e., the mouth of the container 20). Additionally, in the case of a liquid product, air bubbles form in the product due to the flow of air through the valve device 25. It should be noted that as the container 20 is inverted, air flows into the valve device 25 through inlet central hole 51, and out into the product (as bubbles, if liquid product) through one or more outlet vent holes 35 (disposed on either side of the shaft 30). As the container 20 becomes more and more inverted, the valve device 25 continues to move forward in the container neck 21, as does the product. As soon as the second valve cap 50 passes across the container dispensing opening, product begins to flow from the container. At approximately the same time that valve cap 50 is passing across a container dispensing opening (i.e., the mouth of the container 20), the first valve cap 40 becomes seated in the container throat 23, thereby preventing product in the container 20 from continuing to flow into the container neck 21. The product trapped in the container neck 21 is thus dispensed through the container dispensing opening in a predetermined amount. Product is dispensed from a gap between the container dispensing opening and the second valve cap 50. During this process, air flows into the container neck 21 at an upper side thereof (causing bubbles to form), while fluid is dispensed from a lower side.

The selection of the size of inlet central hole 51, outlet vent hole 35, and hollow passage 31 are preferably based on the viscosity (e.g., liquid) or density (e.g., granular solid) of the product to be dispensed and the relative speed with which the product is to be dispensed. The volume or dose amount of a particular product is determined by the distance between the first and second valve caps 40, 50, as well as the particular diameter of the valve caps and the diameter of the shaft 30. Additionally, it may be possible to increase or decrease the dose amount by altering the size and shape of the holes 35 and 51, and thus rate of dispensing. Further, it should be noted that additional vent holes 35, 51 may be added to the shaft 30 to change the dosing parameters (e.g., increase/decrease the dose amount and/or the pour speed).

The product dispensing system 10 according to the first exemplary embodiment of the present invention provides for a more accurate and efficient method of dispensing product because of the improved venting system (i.e., shaft 30, inlet central hole 51, and outlet vent holes 35) of the valve devices 25. The hollow passage 31 in the shaft 30 allows air to flow into the product at a controlled rate, thereby making the transition of the valve device 25 much smoother and more accurate than in prior art dispensing systems (e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 5,044,027 described above).

The valve device 25 described above are preferably made of plastic by, for example, extrusion or injection molding methods which are well known in the art. Preferably, the above-described shaft 30, first cap 40, second cap 50 and the spider guide 45 are formed as a unitary piece by extrusion. Further, it should be noted that the shaft 30 and hollow passage 31 may be formed of any suitable diameters, and that such diameters may be altered to alter the amount of fluid dispensed and fluid flow rate.

Although the invention has been described in terms of exemplary embodiments, it is not limited thereto. Rather, the appended claims should be construed broadly, to include other variants and embodiments of the invention which may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope and range of equivalents of the invention.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
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US3076581 *Jun 22, 1959Feb 5, 1963Booth William MMeasuring dispenser for liquids
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7093738 *Aug 16, 2004Aug 22, 2006Union Street Brand Packaging, LlcDoser for portable liquids and fluent materials
US7845524Dec 7, 2010Union Street Brand Packaging LlcApparatus and method of dispensing fluid
US7967172Jun 28, 2011Kraft Foods Global Brands LlcMetered dosage dispenser closure for powders
US8708199Aug 17, 2011Apr 29, 2014Mark Edward JamesBulk dispensing system and method
US8899437Jan 15, 2013Dec 2, 2014Gateway Plastics, Inc.Closure with integrated dosage cup
US20060091152 *Aug 8, 2005May 4, 2006Union Street Brand Packaging, LlcApparatus and method of dispensing fluid
US20060091153 *Aug 8, 2005May 4, 2006Union Street Brand Packaging, LlcApparatus and method of dispensing fluid
US20090200342 *Feb 11, 2008Aug 13, 2009Albaum Gary JMetered dosage dispenser closure for powders
USD740661May 12, 2014Oct 13, 2015Gateway Plastics, Inc.Closure with integrated dosage cup
USD746137Nov 15, 2013Dec 29, 2015Diversey, Inc.Dosing cap
Classifications
U.S. Classification222/476, 222/477, 222/424.5, 222/442, 222/454
International ClassificationG01F11/26, B65D1/02
Cooperative ClassificationG01F11/263, B65D1/023
European ClassificationG01F11/26B2, B65D1/02D1
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 10, 2000ASAssignment
Owner name: SUSSEX TECHNOLOGY, INC., NEW JERSEY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:EVANS, CHRISTOPHER T.;REEL/FRAME:011013/0123
Effective date: 20000809
Nov 14, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: HELLER FINANCIAL, INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SUSSEX TECHNOLOGY, INC.;REEL/FRAME:013578/0532
Effective date: 20021031
Dec 10, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: HELLER FINANCIAL, INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:ATP PLASTICS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:013563/0724
Effective date: 20021112
Oct 21, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: ATP PLASTICS, INC., DELAWARE
Free format text: RELEASE OF SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:HELLER FINANCIAL, INC.;REEL/FRAME:014059/0604
Effective date: 20031010
Mar 9, 2005REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed
Aug 22, 2005LAPSLapse for failure to pay maintenance fees
Oct 18, 2005FPExpired due to failure to pay maintenance fee
Effective date: 20050821
Dec 12, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: THE BANK OF NEW YORK, AS SECOND LIEN COLLATERAL AG
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:SUSSEX TECHNOLOGY, INC.;REEL/FRAME:016883/0139
Effective date: 20051024
Owner name: THE BANK OF NEW YORK, AS FIRST LIEN COLLATERAL AGE
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:SUSSEX TECHNOLOGY, INC.;REEL/FRAME:016883/0103
Effective date: 20051024
Owner name: THE BANK OF NEW YORK, AS THIRD LIEN COLLATERAL AGE
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:SUSSEX TECHNOLOGY, INC.;REEL/FRAME:016883/0193
Effective date: 20051024
Jul 7, 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: SUSSEX TECHNOLOGY, INC., NEW JERSEY
Free format text: RELEASE OF SECURITY INTEREST IN PATENT COLLATERAL FOR REEL/FRAME NOS. 016883/0103, 016883/0139 AND 016883/0193;ASSIGNOR:THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON;REEL/FRAME:022917/0660
Effective date: 20090707